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MILLENNIUM


309


MILLENNimM


became more general towards the end of the second century, going hand in liand with the struggle against Montanism. The Roman presbyter Caius (end of the second and beginning of the third century) attacked the millenarians. On the other hand, Hippolytus of Rome defended them and attempted a proof, basing his arguments on the allegorical explanation of the six days of creation as six thousand years, as he had been taught by tradition. The most powerful adversary of millenarianism was Origen of Alexandria. In view of the Neo-Platonism on which his doctrines were founded and of his spiritual-allegorical method of explaining the Holy Scriptures, he could not side with the millen- arians. He combatted them expressly, and, owing to the great influence which his writings exerted on ecclesiastical theology especially in Oriental countries, millenarianism gradually disappeared from the ideas of Oriental Christians. Only a few later advocates are known to us, principally theological adversaries of Origen. About the middle of the third century Nepos, bishop in Egypt, who entered the lists against the alle- gorism of Origen, also propounded millenarian ideas and gained some adherents in the vicinity of Arsinoe. A schism threatened ; but the prudent and moderate pol- icy of Diouysius, Bishop of Alexandria, preserved unity; the chiliasts abandoned their views (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl.", VII, 14). Egypt seems to have har- boured adherents of millenarianism in still later times. Methodius, Bishop of Olympus, one of the principal op- ponents of Origen at the beginning of the fourth cen- tury, upheld chiliasm in his Symposion (IX, 1, 5, in Migne, "Patr. Gnec", XVIII, 178 sqq.). In the sec- ond half of the fourth century, these doctrines found their last defender in ApoUinaris, Bishop of Laodicea and founder of ApoUinarism (q. v.). His writings on this subject have Ijeen lost ; but St. Basil of Caesarea (Epist. CCLXIII, 4, in Migne, "Patr. Gnec", XXXII, 980), Epiphanius (Hteres. LXX, 36, in Migne loc. cit., XLII, 696) and Jerome (In Isai. XVIII, in Migne, " Patr. Lat. " XXIV, 627) testify to his having been a chiliast. Jerome also adds that many Christians of that time shared the same beliefs ; but after that mil- lenarianism found no outspoken champion among the theologians of the Greek Church.

In the West, the millenarian expectations of a glori- ous kingdom of Christ and His just, found adherents for a long time. The poet Commodian (Instructiones, 41, 42, 44, in Migne, "Patr. Lat." V, 231 sqq.) as well as Lactantius (Institutiones, VIII, Migne, "Patr. Lat.", VI, 739 sqq.) proclaim the millennial realm and describe its splendour, partly drawing on the earlier chiliasts and the Sybilline prophecie.'-, partly borrowing their colours from the "golden age" of the pagan poets ; but the idea of the six thousand years for the duration of the world is ever conspicuous. Vic- torinus of Pettau also was a millenarian though in the extant copy of his commentary on the Apocalypse no allusions to it can be detected. St. Jerome, himself a decided opponent of the millenial ideas, brands Sul- picius Severus as adhering to them, but in the writings of this author in their present form nothing can be found to support this charge. St. Ambrose indeed teaches a twofold resurrection, but millenarian doctrines do not stand out clearly. On the other hand, St. Augustine was for a time, as he himself testifies (De Civitate Dei, XX, 7), a pronounced champion of millenarianism; but he places the millennium after the universal resur- rection and regards it in a more spiritual light (Sermo, CCLIX, in Migne, "Patr. Lat.", XXXVIII, 1197) When, however, he accepted the doct rine of only one uni- versal resurrection and a final judgment immediately following, he could no longer cling to the principal tenet of early chiliasm. St. Augustine finally held to the conviction that there vi-ill be no millennium. The struggle between Christ and His saints on the one hand and the wicked world and Satan on the other, is waged in the Church on earth; so the great Doctor


describes it in his work De Civitate Dei. In the same book he gives us an allegorical explanation of Chap. 20 of the Apocalypse, The first resurrection, of which this chapter treats, he tells us, refers to the spiritual rebirth in baptism; the sabbath of one thousand years after the six thousand years of history, is the whole of eternal life ; or, in other words, the number one thou- sand is intended to express perfection, and the last space of one thousand years must be understood as referring to the end of the world; at all events, the kingdom of Christ, of which the Apocalypse speaks, can only be applied to the Church (De Civitate Dei, XX, 5-7, in Migne, "Patr. Lat.", XLI, 607 sqq.). This explanation of the illustrious Doctor was adopted by succeeding Western theologians, and millenarian- ism in its earlier shape no longer received support. Cerinthus and the Ebionites are mentioned in later writings against the heretics as defenders of the millen- nium, it is true, but as cut-off from the Church. More- over, the attitude of the Church towards the secular power had undergone a change with closer connexion between her and the Roman empire. There is no doubt that this turn of events ditl much towards wean- ing the Christians from the old millenarianism, which during the time of persecution had been the expression of their hopes that Christ would soon reappear and overthrow the foes of His elect. Chiliastic views dis- appeared all the more rapidly, because, as was re- marked above, in spite of their wide diffusion even among sincere Christians, and in spite of their defence by prominent Fathers of the early Church, millenarian- ism was never held in the universal Church as an arti- cle of faith based on Apostolic traditions.

The Middle Ages were never tainted with millenar- ianism ; it was foreign both to the theology of that period and to the religious ideas of the people. The fantastic views of the apocalyptic writers (Joachim of Floris, the Franciscan-Spirituals, the Apostolici), referred only to a particular form of spiritual renova- tion of the Church, but did not include .a second advent of Christ. The "emperor myths," which prophesied the establishment of a happy, universal kingdom by the great emperor of the future, contain indeed descriptions that remind one of the ancient Sybilline ana millenarian writings, but an essential trait is again missing, the return of Christ and the con- nexion of the blissful reign with the resurrection of the just. Hence the millennium proper is unknown to them. The Protestantism of the sixteenth century ushered in a new epoch of millenarian doctrines. Prot- estant fanatics of the earlier years, particularly the Anabaptists, believetl in a new, golden age uniler the sceptre of Christ, after the overthrow of the papacy and secular empires. In 1.534 the Analjaptists set up in Miinster (Westphalia) the new Kingdom of Zion, which advocated sharing property and women in com- mon, as a prelude to the new kingdom of Christ. Their excesses were opposed and their millenarianism dis- owned by both the Augsburg (art. 17) and the Helve- tian Confession (ch. 1 1 ). so that it found no admission into the Lutheran and Reformetl theologies. Never- theless, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries pro- duced new apocalyptic fanatics and mystics who expected the millennium in one form or another: in Ger- many, the Bohemian and Moravian .Brethren (Come- niusi ; in France, Pierre Jurien (L'Accomplis.sement des Proph^ties, 1686) ; in England at the time of Crom- well, the Independents and Jane Leade. A new phase in the development of millenarian views among the Protestants commenced with Pietism. One of the chief champions of the millennium in Germany was I. A. Bengel and his disciple Crusius, who were after- wards joined by Rothe, Volch, Thiersch, I,ange anil others. Protestants from Wurtemberg emigrated to Palestine (Temple Communities) in onler to be clo,ser to Christ at His .second advent. Certain fantastical sects of England and North America,